Amazon has been called the killer of the American indoor shopping mall in countless articles. But it’s been no secret that traditional shopping centers have been struggling long before the advent of online shopping, with the United States boasting more square feet of retail than any other developed nation by far. It is with some irony that Amazon is building new fulfillment centers on the grounds of two dead malls.
Several years ago, I embarked on a winding trip through the Winding Gulf coalfield of West Virginia, to explore and discover the history of this once-bustling part of the nation. The Winding Gulf coalfield rapidly developed in the early 20th century with the advent of deep underground mines that required thousands of miners—and their families.